I met a lot of good people when we lived in Oregon. Silas Shotwell was one of them. He’s preached for churches across the country and once served on the staff of Pepperdine University. I connected with Silas while he was working with a small congregation at Hood River in the Columbia River gorge. Besides preaching there, Silas operated a ministry in his home that served as a retreat center for burned out and hurting ministers. Although now living in New Mexico, he still preaches and directs “The Safety Net.” Silas is one of the most effective evangelists I’ve ever met. He loves people and he understands disciple making. With his permission, I’m sending along a piece from his July blog. It speaks to the importance of doing more than mastering and passing along religious information. – mls
When it comes to Christianity, the world is not looking for information, but demonstration.
Jesus lived his message. He was his method.
As I look back on fifty plus years of ministry, I have seen too much emphasis on gimmicks, techniques, and rhetoric. I don’t see those things as I read the gospels.
I’ve been reading the gospels a lot lately. I’ve read them over and over and I intend to keep doing so. I’m fascinated by how Jesus dealt with people. The gospels provide more than history. They provide a manual, telling us what building disciples is all about.
Many years ago I read Robert Coleman’s book: The Master Plan of Evangelism. There were some abuses of principles he stated there, but I still believe it was one of the most accurate and helpful books I’ve ever read. It stresses that Jesus used eight basic principles in his disciple-‐‑making: Selection, Association, Consecration, Impartation, Demonstration, Delegation, Supervision, and Reproduction. When I’ve used these principles in the past, they have produced much fruit. I’m utilizing them again and seeing some pretty dramatic things.
Of course I’m not trying to win disciples to myself. I’m calling others to follow Christ with me.
I found out recently that I have sleep apnea, rather seriously. So my doctor prescribed a CPAP machine. The technologist brought it to me, and gave me a very brief explanation of how to use it, how to clean it, and how to take it apart. He rushed through his presentation. And his presentation was simply words…lots of words. As he left I knew I didn’t know how to use the machine. He had told me but he had not shown me.
But I’m a fairly intelligent guy so I figured I’d read the manual and figure out how to do it by myself. But the manual was confusing, and had no pictures. Just words, lots of words. The more I read, the more confused I became.
I tried for several nights to use the machine. I didn’t do very wellSo one day the man came back, and told me I was not in compliance. He took the machine back. He never did demonstrate how to use it. I was frustrated with myself but more frustrated with him.
After talking to my doctor, who was convinced that I really needed the machine, I went to another company. Their technician was more like Jesus. She showed me how to use it. She then asked me to demonstrate it back to her. Then she patiently showed me what I had done wrong. By the time she left, I was able to use the machine. I’m now using it nightly and it is helping me. If I have questions, I only have to call her and she answers. She will meet with me if I need that. But I don’t need that now, since she taught me so well in the first place.
Jim Kennedy was the best soul‑winner I’ve ever known. He wrote a book and held seminars. But the greatest thing he ever did for me was take me with him. I saw him witness to college students, waitresses, skeptics, and atheists. I saw him bring an atheistic, non-practicing Jew to Christ. His confidence was not in himself, but in the Lord, and in the gospel. So he showed me. The impression I gained was that anyone could share the gospel if they truly believed the gospel. I was not the novice, learning from an expert, but the novice learning from another novice who was willing to demonstrate what he had learned. “One beggar telling another where to find bread.”
And I’ll never forget what Jim said to me when I left him. He said: “Silas, don’t you dare go home and teach a class on soul-winning! You do it, and take someone with you.” That’s what I did, and I’ve never regretted it.
You can teach classes on prayer, and not pray. You can explain and defend the gospel, without sharing the gospel. I think Judas knew all the words that Peter and John knew. He just didn’t live them.
So remember. The world is not looking for information, but for demonstration. Live it, and let others learn from your example and guidance.